Forming a Nonprofit Corporation in Illinois

Here are the steps to form a nonprofit corporation in Illinois. You should read this page in conjunction with the general section on forming a nonprofit corporation, which has additional steps listed that are applicable to all states. You should also familiarize yourself with chapter 805, act 105 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (abbreviated here as "Ill. Comp. Stat.") and with the Illinois Secretary of State's Guide for Organizing Not-For-Profit Corporations.

1. Choose a business name and check for availability

  • Your nonprofit's name may not be the same as, or deceptively similar to, other corporate names on file with the Secretary of State (limited exceptions apply).
  • If the name implies that the corporation is for-profit, it must be followed by the letters "NFP."

2. Recruit and/or appoint directors

  • You must have at least three directors for your nonprofit corporation.
  • Directors do not have to reside within the state of Illinois, nor do they have to be of a certain age.

3. Incorporate your Nonprofit Organization

You should read the general section on forming a nonprofit corporation in tandem with the steps outlined here.

a. Prepare and file articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State

  • You must be at least eighteen years of age to be an incorporator in Illinois.
  • The filing fee is $50.
  • Click here for a sample articles of incorporation for a nonprofit corporation.
  • After you file your articles of incorporation, the Secretary of State will send you a certificate of incorporation. Within fifteen days of receiving this certificate, you must record both it and your articles of incorporation with the Office of the Recorder of Deeds in the county where your nonprofit corporation's registered office is located.
b. Create the bylaws
  • There are no set criteria for the content of bylaws, but they typically set forth internal rules and procedures.
  • You are not required to file bylaws with the Secretary of State, but you must keep a copy at the nonprofit corporation's principal place of business.
c. Hold an organizational meeting
d. Create a Records Book
  • You will need a records book to store important documents concerning your nonprofit corporation.

4. Get your Employer Identification Number

Whenever you hire an employee in Illinois, you must inform both the IRS and the state of Illinois.

a. Federal
  • Request an Employer Identification Number ("EIN") from the IRS. This can be done via an online application.
  • The IRS details all of the necessary steps to complete, including verifying work eligibility and withholding allowances certificates, in Hiring Employees.
b. State

5. Register with the state of Illinois

a. Office of the Attorney General
  • The filing fee is $15.
b. Department of Revenue

6. Apply for tax exemptions

All business entities are taxed in a variety of different ways. Once you've incorporated as a nonprofit corporation, you can start applying for tax exemptions.

a. Federal
  • The IRS lists a series of questions to help you determine whether your organization is eligible for federal tax exemption.
b. State
  • Once you obtain federal tax-exempt status, you do not need to file any paperwork with Illinois to qualify for state income tax exemption, and you do not need to file a state tax return.
  • Contact the Sales Tax Division with the Department of Revenue to see if you qualify for a state sales tax exemption.
c. Local


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